COVID-19 News

A changing market landscape in the British potato industry: What behavioural changes has Coronavirus driven?

Following an extraordinary few months for the industry, join the AHDB Retail & Consumer Insight team during a series of webinars, focused on reviewing how the market and consumers have changed during the coronavirus pandemic, and what opportunities and threats this now presents for AHDB sectors. Grace Randall joins Kim Malley for this webinar focused on potatoes, discussing how purchasing and consumption has been impacted by coronavirus, pulling out the opportunities and threats for the category in the future.

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NPC CEO on accessing COVID relief aid; Potato Expo 2021 update

In the latest Eye on Potatoes podcast, NPC CEO Kam Quarles calls in to discuss how potato growers are accessing $14 billion in aid available through USDA’s new CFAP 2 program and the latest Congressional efforts to fund the government until early December. Kam also provides an update on Potato Expo 2021, currently scheduled for January 6-7 as an in-person and online hybrid event and NPC’s Annual Meeting, moved to coincide with February’s Potato D.C. Fly-In.

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HZPC potato breeding company says it ‘closes eventful year with a healthy result’

The 2019/2020 financial year has been eventful in many respects for HZPC, the company says in a press release issued earlier today. HZPC says that despite the consequences of COVID-19, the company has had an operationally successful season. The coming season, however, may well be more of a challenge, HZPC says. The potato breeder says it is on the cusp of a season which encompasses a huge, global economic recession.

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Postponed: World Potato Congress and Europatat events in Ireland postponed to 2022 due to pandemic crisis

Due to the pandemic and for the safety of participants, it is with great reluctance that the three organisations World Potato Congress Inc., Europatat and the Irish Potato Federation, jointly announce today the postponement of the World Potato Congress (WPC) and the Europatat Congress planned for May/June in Dublin in 2021. Originally scheduled for 31st May – 3rd June 2021, the WPC will now take place on 30th May – 2nd June 2022. As previously planned, the WPC will be preceded by the Europatat Congress – which will take place from 29th- 30th May 2022.

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‘What have Belgium frites got to do with a Brexit trade deal?’

The UK may have already left the EU, but talks between the two sides to secure a trade deal are still in deadlock – with both sides saying next month is the deadline to do a deal. That’s causing big uncertainty for businesses on both sides of the Channel, who could face cross-border tariffs that would make their products more expensive.One of the countries set to be hit hardest by no deal on trade is Belgium – where leading economists claim thousands of jobs will be lost

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CFAP2: USDA to host Grower Webinar

USDA is introducing a new round of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP 2). CFAP 2 provides direct support for producers who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic since April 2020. During a special webinar to be hosted on Thu, Sep 24, 2020 3:00 PM EDT, growers will be informed about expanded eligibility for certain commodities, new payment categories including a sales-based approach to specialty crops and other specific commodities, and information on how to apply.

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Branston: ‘Potato sales boom expected to continue’

Covid-19 has driven dramatic revival in potato sales, with Branston’s James Truscott confident category can continue to prosper in longer term. The managing director of one of Britain’s leading potato suppliers has tipped the sales boost for potatoes to outlast coronavirus lockdown measures thanks to what he hopes are lasting changes to people’s cooking habits, according to a report by Fred Searle for Fruitnet.

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COVID-19 response: McCain Foods USA partners with No Kid Hungry to help eliminate childhood hunger

Earlier this week, McCain Foods USA announced its partnership with No Kid Hungry to help ensure children across America have access to healthy meals amid coronavirus-related school closures and beyond. McCain Foods USA says in a press release the partnership was launched by donating $75,000 which will be directed to No Kid Hungry’s coronavirus response and recovery efforts that will help provide children with the most important school supply they can have: food.

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Podcast: NPC’s CEO reacts to USDA’s COVID-19 relief announcement

On Friday, Sept. 18, the National Potato Council welcomed the announcement that USDA will implement an expansion of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program — CFAP 2 — which will provide an additional $14 billion for agricultural producers who continue to face market disruptions and associated costs due to the government-imposed food service disruptions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. NPC CEO Kam Quarles calls in from DC to react to the breaking news and to thank USDA for taking this additional step toward relief for the members of the potato industry who have experienced significant economic hardships in 2020.

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Pandemic relief: NPC welcomes USDA’s expanded Coronavirus Financial Assistance Program

On Friday, the National Potato Council welcomed an announcement by President Trump and USDA Secretary Perdue on Sept. 17 that USDA will implement an expansion of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) will provide an additional $14 billion for agricultural producers who continue to face market disruptions and associated costs due to the government-imposed food service disruptions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Signup for CFAP 2 will begin Sept. 21 and run through Dec. 11, 2020.

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COVID-19 impact: Idaho’s 2020 potato crop prognosis

The outlook for the Idaho potato season was very promising at the beginning of the year. Then, in the middle of March, with the impact of the Corona virus becoming aparant here in the US and globally, everything changed. “It was fantastic,” says Idaho potato grower Randy Hardy. “Until the virus hit, I was telling people I’ve been farming for 48 years waiting for a year like this, because it was kind of like a perfect storm, you know? It looked like it was going to be a good marketing year…” But then the pandemic put an end to all of this. Bill Schaefer in Idaho produced a video in which the owners and managers of four prominent Idaho potato operations discuss the economic impact of Covid-19.

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Washington State potato losses top $1 billion, according to study

Total losses from the COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on the Washington State’s potato industry is estimated to top $1 billion, according to a study by Washington State University. Farmers have lost about $29.2 million from the drop in demand and quality of the 2019 harvest, according to the release. Acreage for the 2020 fall harvest dropped 13%, which represents a drop of more than 729,000 tons of potatoes, according to the commission.

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UK: Uncertainty surrounding potential stricter lockdown measures hampers potato trade

According to the latest Potato Weekly report published by AHDB in the UK on Friday, the past week has seen free-buy trade fall once again. AHDB Analyst Alex Cook reports that movement of supplies on contract continues to hold the majority in potato markets. Repeat orders, in some cases with lower volumes, form the common comments this week rather than fresh demand. Anticipation and uncertainty surrounding a potential re-imposing of stricter lockdown measures has seen some purchasers await further information before placing orders, meaning demand has subdued.

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Analysis: A look at British chipping markets from a supply and demand perspective

With the coronavirus pandemic hitting the UK domestic potato trade, we have estimated a 1% drop year-on-year in the GB potato area for 2020/21, with the provisional area standing at 119Kha. AHDB market analysts (Potatoes and Cereals) Alex Cook and Anthony Speight prepared a report in which they take a closer look at how things are stacking up for the British chipping market at this time. In the report they forecast Britain’s potential chipping area for the 2020/21 marketing year; review pricing of chipping potatoes since covid-19, and forecast demand going forward and how this could affect the ex-farm price of chipping potatoes.

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COVID-19 support scheme for Ireland’s potato sector now open

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) is notifying members that the coronavirus (COVID-19) Support Scheme for the potato sector has opened for applications. Farming Life quotes UFU potato committee chair Robert Sibbett Jnr: “The opening of the COVID-19 support scheme for potato growers will be well received among our members. Like all farmers across Northern Ireland, they have been hit hard by the pandemic due to market disruptions.

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McCain Australia and New Zealand resumes normal production after Covid induced backlog

With Kiwis eating fewer hot chips during lockdown, one of New Zealand’s largest potato chip manufacturers was forced to cut production significantly for six weeks at its Timaru factory until the backlog was cleared. McCain Foods agriculture director Australia and New Zealand John Jackson said the company’s factory at Washdyke, Timaru, had reduced its usual 24/7 production to five day a week shifts when stock built up due to reduced orders. Fifteen weeks after takeaway food businesses and restaurants were allowed to re-open, the factory has returned to normal production.

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British potato prices weak as Covid-19 fears remain

Many potatoes are in pretty good shape given the growing season they have had, but growers will be less impressed with the prices they are getting as Covid-19 continues to dominate the market, reports Cedric Porter of World Potato Markets for Farmers Guardian. Prices remain depressed. Early season values are as low as €20/t (£18/t) because of a large carry-over of stocks from last season.

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INTERPOM event postponed until November 2021

Although the Belgian government decided that trade fairs could be organised once again from 1 September 2020 provided they comply with measures as currently applicable to commerce, Kortrijk Xpo and Belgapom have jointly decided to postpone INTERPOM for a year until Sunday 28, Monday 29 and Tuesday 30 November 2021 in Kortrijk Xpo. At the moment, businesses in the potato sector are mainly preoccupied with reorganising themselves as they restart operations.

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US: Washington State potato industry averts worst case scenario during pandemic

Shawn Goggins reports that Washington State’s potato industry has lost $995,000,000 due to the pandemic, but the seemingly stratospheric figure is the better scenario, according Chris Voigt of the Washington Potato Commission. In fact, as of this week, the last of the 600 million potatoes allotted to processing were used up. In addition, another 200 million pounds were also diverted to dehydrated potato products.

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France: Pandemic brought uncertainty to potato markets; focus need to be on quality, says UNPT

Covid-19 has shaken up all predictions and profoundly changed the fundamentals of the 2019 campaign in France and the rest of Europe. On the French fresh market, it has meant a revival in terms of household consumption. For the industry, on the other hand, it has caused factories to slow down due to the very sharp decline in restaurant activity all over the world. So says the National Union of French Potato Producers (UNPT) in a recent press release. The organization urges the industry to stay focused on quality products, and not quantity.

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New Zealand: Health Ministry refuses Covid exemption for potato crisp and biscuit workers

The Ministry of Health is moving to counter criticism that it is using its powers to exempt trucks and workers moving in and out of Auckland to restrict workers going to jobs in potato crisp factories. The chief executive of the Food and Grocery Council, Katherine Rich, is particularly critical that the role of granting the exemption to cross in and out of the Auckland Council region has shifted from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to the Ministry of Health.

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Coronavirus reduced Egypt’s potato exports by 25 percent

The head of the Union for Producers and Exporters of Horticultural Crops (UPEHC) Mohamed Heggi announced Saturday that Egypt’s exports of potatoes this year has fallen by 25 percent, due to the coronavirus crisis and its impact on exports in general. Egypt exported 673,000 tons of potatoes this year, falling short of the target for 850,000 tons. He added that potatoes were planted on 408,000 feddans (171,000 ha), with the largest amount cultivated during the winter planting period which saw production reaching three million tons.

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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